Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Dog's life - Loreto Style

One day this week I met a neighbor, Rich, on the Paseo and he started telling me about these puppies he had found/rescued and I wound up going with him to see them at another neighbors, Jill’s house. While we watched the puppies eat and sleep and play (all within about a one hour visit) I heard this story about the new puppies and invited Rich to write it up as this week’s Blog:

Warning: the following blog may contain heartwarming photos of new puppies that some readers may find difficult to resist. Read further at your own risk.

This week turned out to be one of those weeks that I really didn’t see coming. Nothing special was planned, just the usual morning walks with our dog, Lola, and maybe dinner with friends. Just when things were going as expected, I got word of a litter of puppies that had been born to a stray dog down in an unfinished home on the construction site.

As resident “dog guy” here at Loreto Bay, news of this sort reaches me rather quickly. I had gotten a glimpse of the mother dog on a couple of occasions over the past month or two, but had no idea that she was pregnant. She would peek out, let us have a couple of warning barks, and then vanish. I thought: “Just another street dog, looking for shelter”—only this one had a surprise for us all.

Grace, the daughter of a Loreto Bay resident (who is already a hopeless animal lover) and her friend Chandler (likewise) had been alerted to a new litter of puppies by one of the construction workers. These wonderful young girls were feeding the Mom (a street dog), and checking daily on the puppies. We decided that the puppies were still nursing and in need of their Mom—they were only a month old or so. A visit to the construction site, however, made it abundantly clear that all of them, Mom and puppies, were in great peril and could not survive much longer in the wild. Along with friend and neighbor Jill, my wife Jean and I enlisted the help of some of the construction workers in a search for all of the puppies.

Details were sketchy at best: there were six puppies, or was it five? No, there were only three left—had somebody taken a couple of them home? Aided by a couple of workers who were genuinely concerned, we initially found three small puppies, all females, all separated from each other. One was hiding under a piece of heavy equipment, while another seemed more active and was following the mother, trying hard to nurse. It was obvious that the mother dog had nothing left to give. She herself was emaciated and looked to be barely clinging to her own life, much less trying to feed the puppies. A third pup was located upstairs in one of the houses, asleep on the jacket of a worker. He said he was worried that she (another female) was cold, so he was trying to shelter her. So, we scooped her up with her two sisters and headed to the local Vet in Loreto.

These three babies were teeming with fleas, ticks and probably worms. After getting checked over, vaccinated for Parvovirus, and weighed (about 4 lbs. each) it was back to Jill’s Casa, where she and her visiting friend Anita took on the daunting task of caring for these puppies while we all tried to figure out what to do next. Little did they know that their life was about to become even more complicated.

On my trip over to the site the next morning to locate and feed the mother, I was greeted by two very excited workers: they had found two more. After extricating them from their hiding places, I tossed them in the car and it was déjà vu at the vet’s office. Now, all five (yes, that’s the final count) of these sisters (yes, all girls) are cleaned up, fed, and warm for the first time in their short lives. Now the real work begins.

The plight of the street dog in Mexico isn’t pretty. Anyone who has visited this beautiful country has surely seen the problem first hand. Here in Loreto, we have an active spay and neuter clinic, Animalandia, which has treated over 1500 dogs in the 3 years we have lived here. This organization runs entirely on donations and with volunteer labor, including vets from around the world who come here and donate their services doing free spay/neuter clinics several times a year.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that we still have no boarding facility to keep strays or abandoned animals in between the periodic clinics. Although we are making a dent, the problem is of a scope that is hard to comprehend. Check out the Animalandia website at, and look for our video on Youtube — just search for “animalandia Loreto”. It’s worth a look.

This week has taught me a few things. One is the incredible resiliency of these animals. This mother dog did everything she could to feed and save these puppies, even if it meant putting her on life at risk. Our plan is to take her to the Animalandia clinic in February and get her cleaned up, spayed, and adopted. She is sweet and courageous, and will make somebody a wonderful pet. The puppies are amazing. They change daily, and are so full of life in spite of it all. We are desperately looking for homes for these beautiful dogs!

(If you are in Loreto and are interested in adopting the mother, or one (or more) of her puppies you can send me a message through this Blog and I will forward your email contact to Rich who, as the Foster Father, will be able to help you give a home to a very deserving Baja dog. Drew)

Perhaps most of all, I have been moved by the unselfish kindness of the people involved. Grace and Chandler give us all hope for the future — these young girls were determined to see these puppies survive. Jill and Anita have allowed their daily lives to be turned upside down by a playpen full of puppies. I am a firm believer that you can judge a person, or a community, by how they treat animals in need. This week has shown me that no matter where you are, there are good people around. So c’mon, adopt one of these puppies. It will be good for you!

Thanks, Rich, for your Guest Blog, and for the many hours I know you have dedicated to improving life for hundreds and hundreds of animals in this community. I couldn’t have said it better myself – learning important lessons about friends and neighbors as a result of rescuing an abandoned dog and her litter of five puppies – that’s a special part of “Living Loreto”.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Remarkable Thing!

A remarkable thing happened this week – it rained!

Now, for those of you who are in California, or, sad to admit, watch the weather channel, or both, you already know that there has been record breaking rainfall this past week in California. As a result, there have been floods, mudslides, and pretty general chaos in that state. Now, here in the southern Baja peninsula we are not that far from California (Loreto is about a thousand kilometres or 600 miles from Tijuana) so perhaps it does not seem all that remarkable to you that we experienced a bit of rain here, when they are struggling with such an extreme rain event there. But, to put it in perspective, on average it usually only rains here 3 or 4 days a YEAR! That does not include the “rainy season”, which is in September (plus or minus a couple of weeks at either end), when we can get the occasional hurricane that can drop up to a foot of rain in a day. But for the rest of the year, a rainy day in Loreto is a rare event!

(At the time I wrote this, earlier in the week, I was not aware of the fact that Mex. Highway #1 was blocked in several places between Guerrero Negro and Ensenada after the storm, due to serious flooding of vados {where water crosses the road without a culvert or bridge} and some washed out Bridges. Travel on the highway has been temporarily disrupted until these problems can be fixed, so this was obviously a much more serious storm event in the northern Baja than I described in the following piece and I do not want to give the impression of trivializing this situation.)

The funny thing about it was, that when I went outside this morning to get my bike and ride to work, I realized that it was actually raining fairly hard and steady, and I had to stop and think for a minute about how I was going to deal with it. I considered whether I should put on a jacket, but it was still nice and warm (in the mid-seventies) and it wasn’t as if it was raining so hard that I would get soaked. Even if I did get a bit wet, I was wearing a golf shirt and a pair of shorts so I wasn’t going to ruin anything I was wearing. I also considered a hat, but again, I wasn’t going to be out in the rain all that long, the Open House where I spend my mornings is only a couple of blocks away from my house and on the bike it is less than a 5 minute ride. But I did go back inside and get a cloth to wipe the water off the bike seat and then I was on my way.

Now the main street (we call it the Paseo) that runs through the development is not fully paved at this time (it’s a long story, but finishing the re-working of this road is awaiting action by whoever the new Owner of the development is) so my ride was wetter and muddier than usual. (Funny thing – when you add water to sand you get mud!) So I picked my way fairly carefully between the numerous puddles because I was conscious of the fact that my bike doesn’t come equipped with fenders on the wheels and I didn’t want to spend the morning at work with a “skunk stripe” of mud up my back. This, of course, has never been a problem before – who needs fenders on your bike if you ride it in a place where it never rains?

When I arrived and opened up the Open House I hesitated as I went to enter through the door – my feet were wet and I would get the floor wet when I walked on it – then I realized that it didn’t matter. As those of you who are familiar with the homes in Loreto Bay will know, these houses are designed around interior courtyards that are open to the sky above, so of course, as I walked into the courtyard the tile floor surrounding it was all wet from the same rain as I had just ridden through. When your home is built around an open air courtyard, and it rains, your floors get wet – Duuh!

Now before you get the wrong idea, the actual rooms inside the house did not have wet floors, just around the courtyard garden area. In any event, all the floors down here are Saltillo tile and so a few wet footprints wasn’t going to spoil anything.

Part of my usual routine in the morning is having a cup of coffee on the second floor roof-top terrace – but this morning it was wet up there – so I settled for sitting around the dining room table with my coffee this morning. I realize how these appear to be pretty minor things, especially considering the winter weather many of you are having to deal with where you live, but I guess my point is that when you live here – where the weather is so consistently good, day after day - you kind of forget how to deal with the rare inclement day. You get out of practice! But what that actually means, is that when we do get one of those rare days, like today, it serves as a reminder about how perfect the weather is here all the rest of the time.

There is also a novelty factor to the change in weather. Dare I say it, consistently perfect weather, while maybe not actually boring, does cause one to be guilty of taking the fine weather for granted. So, down here, a rainy day is cause for some mild celebrating and it was obvious, as I rode down the Paseo, that the general mood on the street was even happier than usual, particularly among the Mexicans working at their various jobs, who make up the majority of people I see on the Paseo in the morning. These people, who have lived in this climate so much longer, would be even more likely to react strongly to the novelty of the weather than I did.

Now before I give anyone reading these words from afar the wrong impression, the rain did stop before noon - no need to send us inflatable rafts! And it was also a surprise how quickly things dried up again after the rain had stopped. Because all of the extensive plantings and landscaping in the development are irrigated the rain we received during the night and into this morning will not have a noticeable effect in our immediate surroundings. However, I expect it will be a different situation in the natural surroundings nearby.

In the past, when we have had some rain like this, (it rarely lasts an entire day, and seldom falls very hard) a couple of days later the flush of green vegetation is noticeable along the sides of the highway and, beyond that, into the Mountains that surround this beautiful piece of shoreline. It doesn’t take much rain in a desert to turn things green – so fast that you can almost watch it happening before your eyes!

So, that’s about it for this week – it rained. Now, I have occasionally been accused about a tendency to be somewhat “Seinfeldian” when it comes to choosing subjects for this Blog – much ado about nothing – but, in this case I am innocent! When you live in a desert – albeit in an irrigated beautiful housing development, in a desert – a rainy day IS something to write “home” about! If only because it puts things into perspective and helps me to appreciate the wonderful weather, day in and day out, that become so easy to take for granted when a person is so lucky to live in a place like this.

Learning a lesson about appreciation on the occasion of a rainy day – that’s really “Living Loreto”!

P.S. My good thoughts go out to any travellers stuck on the Highway north of here, I hope you get to your destinations safe and sound – if a little damp!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

During the past year or so that I have been writing this Blog I have gradually developed a “once removed” relationship with you – the readers, who choose to visit this site and follow my ramblings on a more or less regular basis. It is one of the unique (and humbling) aspects of authoring this on-line diary that every week approximately 500 people are reading what I write. I can divide my audience into two distinct groups – the ones I know; friends, family and the people who I meet on a day to day basis, and a much larger group; the strangers who have come to the site through a variety of circumstances, word of mouth, Google or whatever other means, and now have made “Living Loreto” part of their on-line routine.

I have become aware of the reality of this voluntary exposure, when I have had the occasion to meet people, sometimes in the course of my day to day work, who are able to assume a level of familiarity with me that I do not share with them because, as they are usually quick to declare, they read the Blog. Now, before anyone gets the wrong impression, I am not complaining about this – in fact I have always found this experience of “one-sided familiarity” very gratifying. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be writing, which, obviously, I continue to do. But the experience of meeting people who already know a great deal about me and my life here (when I first meet them, and know little or nothing about them) is one of the consequences of writing a personal Blog that I have become used to over the past year.

The reason that I have chosen to write on this subject is because this week I had a particularly enjoyable experience of this unexpected familiarity. It began a couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing to return to Loreto from my Holiday visit back to Canada. I received a brief email from a reader who declared himself a fan of my Blog and said that he was heading down to Loreto to spend some time in his home there and expressed interest in getting together and meeting me while he was there. He suggested that we could get together for dinner, and, somewhat modestly, described himself as “a pretty good cook”.

Now although the Blog has become surprisingly (in my mind) popular, the occasion of unsolicited “fan mail” is a relatively unique experience, so far, and so after some brief consideration, I replied to the email and said that I would be pleased to meet with him and suggested he get back in touch when he had arrived in Loreto to confirm plans. About a week ago I realized that, according to the dates he had mentioned in the email, his visit to Loreto had begun and so I anticipated that I would be hearing from him sometime this week – and then other events occurred and it slipped from my mind. Until Thursday night, when I received another brief email from him, explaining that he had tried to call my cell phone a number of times but had not been able to leave a message because my inbox was full, but he was still looking forward to getting together and gave me his cell number to call.

I will digress here, briefly, to say a few words about the challenge of cell phones in Mexico. I have had a cell phone in Canada for over 20 years, and while I don’t claim to be a particular geek, I am normally adept at using it and have had few problems with the technology, north of the border. For me, cell phones are a completely different experience here in Mexico. Aside from the fact that they operate on a separate, if parallel, system that requires using different prefixes for the number you are dialling, depending on whether you are dialling to, or from, a cell phone; and to, or from, a landline. (If you are not following this description, don’t worry, if I understood it myself I might have some hope of explaining it to you, but under the circumstances, you’re on your own.) In addition to this fundamental complication, the helpful instructions that guide the user through the menu of options that are necessary to operate the phone are – of course – in Spanish, which, much to my shame and regret, I am still functionally illiterate. (In spite of a recently pirated copy of the Rosetta Stone that remains safely hidden in my briefcase, regardless of the best of intentions made most recently this past New Year’s Eve! But that’s for another Blog – maybe.) Therefore, I was completely oblivious to the fact that my inbox was full, and, now that I knew, I was equally helpless to figure out how to remedy the situation. Fortunately, at least I was able to ask a kind and helpful Spanish speaking friend to assist me and I am now pleased to be able to report that, as of now, my inbox is pristine!

But, back to my story, Friday morning I was able to call my intended host and we quickly made plans to meet that evening at his house in town where he had invited me to come to dinner. This brings up another peculiarity of life in Mexico – the all too common instance of “sin numeral”. Many addresses, particularly in small, and old towns, like Loreto, do not have a numerical address – hence, the aforementioned term. It was explained to me once before, that the prevailing attitude here is that the actual location of one’s home is often considered a matter of personal privacy. “I know where I live, my family and friends know where I live, and no one else NEEDS to know where I live” so there is no need or desire for a numerical address that can be easily located by anyone with that information. Such was the case with my host’s home in town. So, after some fairly detailed instructions, and with his cell number carefully recorded, in case I became lost enroute, I headed off to my dinner invitation.

John had built his home within the past five or six years on an oddly shaped lot, just off the Malacon near the town Marina. Although he is only able to spend a few weeks of holiday a year here, he has set up a simple, but charming, get-away retreat that suits his needs perfectly. Although it is three stories high, with a fourth level Palapa commanding a spectacular view of the Marina and Ocean beyond, each level consists of only one room. The ground floor enters onto a guest bedroom with it’s own ensuite. Up two flights of stairs brings you to a small, but efficient kitchen with a dining table and large windows facing north, sliding glass doors onto a small balcony facing east with a view of the water, and another set of doors onto a large shaded deck, that is as large as the room it is attached to. The third floor is a comfortable Master bedroom, again with an ensuite and even better views from several large windows and a door onto a staircase that wraps around two walls and arrives on the top floor which is the full size Palapa with a thatched roof and comfortable seating around a large square table at it’s centre and a convenient wet bar, complete with fridge and well stocked liquor cabinet. Truly a unique, and perfectly planned retreat for John’s too infrequent visits back to Loreto, from the demands of his business responsibilities back at home in San Diego.

When John had modestly described himself as “a pretty good cook” in our previous correspondence, he had failed to mention that in fact he is a professional cook (he shuns the word chef) and he runs a small, but popular Mexican specialty restaurant in a suburb of San Diego. After my experience at dinner last night, I assure you I will take advantage of my next opportunity to be in San Diego and I will make a definite point of visiting John’s establishment – his culinary skills are nothing short of spectacular!

Our meal began with a fresh salad of Romaine leaves with perfectly ripe tomato slices and garnished with diced accents of I think, onion and perhaps jicima, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. The main course was a succulent, fork tender beef bourguignon, or as John referred to it “pot roast”, that he had given a subtle Mexican twist to by adding some peppers to the sauce and giving it a satisfying added heat. The vegetables; baked potatoes and oven roasted Mexican zucchini provided the perfect compliment, along with fresh baguettes and we finished with an assortment of local pastries and rich strong coffee. When I asked about the source of the beef, recognizing that this was like nothing I had ever seen in Loreto, John explained that it came from personal friends of his, who raised organic cattle near San Francisco. Coming from Alberta, where beef is a source of considerable local pride, the idea of raising cattle anywhere near San Francisco, let alone organic beef, is just one of the pleasant surprises the meal held for me.

As if the culinary delights were not enough, John proved to be a fascinating host, and we kept up an almost non-stop dialogue about his love of food and cooking, his training in Europe, his many years of working as a professional Chef (I`ll say it, even if he won`t) and finally his experiences running his restaurant – which includes catering to a rather select clientele that includes, among many others, Paula Abdul and Martha Stewart! In fact John is now a repeat contributor to Martha`s satellite radio channel. A ``pretty good cook`` indeed!

And so ended my experience of meeting with one of my heretofore anonymous readers, thank you John, for your compliment and generosity and for giving me one of my most memorable meals here in Mexico, and giving me a glimpse of your fascinating life – great rewards truly can come from the kindness of strangers, and that is a happy lesson of ``Living Loreto``!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting Here is NONE of the Fun!

Timing, as they say, is everything! As circumstance would have it, I was starting my return flight schedule to Loreto last Saturday, one week after the “underwear bomber” had failed to blow up another American airliner – but had succeeded in creating a new level of panic, and a new series of security precautions on all US bound flights from Canada.

I had been following regular news reports all week, since the Nigerian would-be-bomber had been apprehended while trying to create an explosive chemical reaction in his shorts, to ascertain what the new restrictions would be affecting my travel plans. By the departure day I knew that the authorities were requiring US bound passengers to check in at least three hours before their scheduled flight time to allow for enhanced security screening. I also knew that they were limiting carry-on baggage to one item, and the list of acceptable items included a laptop and presumably a case to carry it in, although that was never specifically mentioned.

Therefore, I arrived at the airport by 10:00 am for my scheduled 1:30 departure, and I was the second person in line when I located the Alaskan/Horizon check-in podium. Other passengers arrived soon afterwards and the line-up looked suitably crowded by 10:30, when the check-in staff arrived. I was pleased to see that the airline personnel had adjusted their regular schedule and they were ready to begin the check-in process about an hour earlier than normal.

I had already planned to travel with two checked bags and so it wasn’t too difficult to find space for the other items that could no longer be carried on, like my camera bag and a small overnight bag with the things I needed for the layover in Los Angeles. With careful planning, and a set of fairly reliable bathroom scales, I managed to pack both checked bags so that they weighed just under the 50 lb. maximum. So I was feeling organized and confident when I presented myself for the check-in, but things started to awry right away!

When I said that I was checking two bags the attendant asked what was in my rather substantial briefcase, to which I replied “My laptop and a few books and papers”. She looked at me sternly and said “One book only and no other items other than computer cables etc.” So I proceeded to remove several books and two portfolios with papers and stow them in the outside pockets of the checked bags – knowing full well that this extra weight would put both bags into the dreaded (and expensive) “Heavy Bag” category. However, much to my surprise (and relief), she did not charge me for the overweight, or even the regular baggage charges of $15 for the first and $25 for the second – a rare gesture of leniency in today`s world of increasingly restricted airline policies.

After the check-in I proceeded to the US Immigration area and went through the usual procedures – where I`m sure even the most innocent among us feels somehow guilty, as we stand patiently waiting for the stern faced officer to return our documents and give us the OK to carry on, and, in effect, enter America, in spite of the fact that I was still physically, if not technically, in the Calgary Airport. I then joined a longer than normal line up to drop off the checked bags. The delay was caused by a pre-screening of all the carry-on bags, to determine that the contents complied with the new regulations, while there was still the opportunity to add any surplus items to the checked luggage. My now slimmed down briefcase passed this inspection and I dropped off the checked luggage and proceeded to the final phase – security screening.

The now familiar routine of removing the laptop from its bag and taking off shoes and emptying pockets was now enhanced with a detailed inspection by security personnel of everything before it entered the X-ray machine. I then proceeded through the metal detector after which I was directed to one of several uniformed Mounties who were conducting a thorough pat down frisking. After this once-over I then retrieved my possessions, but not before they were all re-inspected by a different security person and the laptop was swabbed for explosives. Finally, I was free to put my things back together again and make my way to the gate – surprisingly at this point, the entire procedure from check-in to the gate, had taken only 45 minutes and I had over two hours to wait for my departure.

We boarded the plane on schedule, but there was a delay while the flight crew tried to balance the passenger list with the manifest – eventually deciding that we were missing one passenger who had checked in with luggage, but they were not aboard the plane. This necessitated sorting through the entire stowed luggage to find and remove the orphan bags and then reload the cargo again. While I gather this is not all that unusual a circumstance, it had never happened to me before, and it brought home the sobering reality that all of this complicated security routine, that often seems unnecessary and designed to frustrate the general travelling public, is in fact there for a purpose. Given the fact that someone had checked baggage for the flight and then failed to board it, took on ominous overtones, in light of the heightened level of security we had all been through.

The rest of the journey through Seattle and connecting on to Los Angeles was uneventful – being pre-cleared in Canada we are treated like a domestic flight arriving in Seattle and can stay in the secured area to the next departure gate. I picked up my bags in LAX and waited only a couple of minutes for the Hotel Shuttle and was settled in my room ordering room-service half an hour later. The next morning I repacked my carry-on with the books and things I had removed the day before, to reduce the weight of the checked bags again, and headed back to the Airport, a little more than two hours before my departure for Loreto.

After lining up for half an hour to get a boarding pass and check my bags I found that I was unable to use the computer kiosk to print a boarding pass – perhaps because it didn`t recognize my Canadian Passport – so I had to join a second line for Agent Assistance. The Agent had no problem checking me in and took both bags without comment – or baggage charges, again – and I was off on my way to clear security.

In my past experience security at LAX is definitely NOT lax! Understandable, I guess, as it is one of the busiest and highest profile Airports in the country. So I was not surprised to see a line-up of several hundred people winding their way through tape barriers before finally reaching the inspection lines. After going through the usual routine, again, I passed through the metal detector and then received another thorough pat-down like the one I had received the day before by the Mountie. As I collected my computer and shoes etc. after scanning, I realized, to my surprise, that I had somehow neglected to actually put my briefcase on the conveyor. This eventually necessitated one of the security staff to ``swim upstream`` through the people waiting to be passed through the metal detector, locate my missing briefcase, that I had left on the floor at the end of the conveyor, and pass it through the scanner. All of this was completed without me being arrested or put through the dreaded ``secondary inspection`` and I was soon on my way, entering the Alaskan gate areas.

But not so fast! I was less than 50 feet past the security area when I heard my name being paged to report to a gate for an urgent message. As I was just passing the indicated gate when I heard the announcement, I arrived just as the gate attendant was replacing her microphone. The cause for alarm was that they had located a 2``x 3`` box (in one of my 50 lb. checked bags) that contained 10 little Co2 charger cartridges for the whipped cream dispenser that was a Christmas gift I was carrying back with me. The gate attendant asked me if I wanted them to hold the cartridges for my return, or to dispose of them – I of course said to chuck them! But I was amazed and impressed that this tiny box of admittedly contraband items had been identified and located within the suitcase loaded with various and sundry Christmas gifts etc. and the system was so efficient that they had been able to contact me before I had even made it to the gate.

I later found out that they had also called my Canadian contact number and acquired my cell phone number and I received that call (as I was eating my breakfast) in addition to their paging me – all over a few dollars worth of disposable cartridges. I also admit that I was feeling a bit sheepish over blithely packing these compressed gas cylinders in contravention of the most basic baggage guidelines. I then got to thinking why these items had not been caught when my bags were screened back in Calgary the previous day – but I didn`t want to dwell on this minor breach of security in light of all the other measures I had been through on this trip.

The remainder of the trip was thankfully uneventful, and I arrived at the new Loreto terminal and saw the much improved new arrivals area with the new Immigration desk and the same old conveyor from the old airport. My bags were among the last to be unloaded and the line crawled through the arrived baggage scanning process before I pushed the green light – again – and was finally free to leave the Airport and all of its security and finally be able to appreciate the warm sunny weather that greeted me in Loreto.

And so ends my story about flying under the most recent enhanced security procedures. As I sat down to write this I was thinking I would come up with some scathing criticisms about frisking Grannies and ziplocked baggies of small doses of hand cleaner and the utter futility of preventing the previous threat to our security. However as the story unfolded and I reflected on how surprisingly smooth and efficient the process was, relatively speaking, my attitude has changed and I am now appreciative of the dozens (perhaps hundreds) of trained professionals in two countries and four airports that co-operated to get me safely to my destination, in spite of the increasingly dangerous and threatening world we live in, and my own lapses that contributed to the situation.

Being lucky enough to be able to travel across continents and arrive in this beautiful sanctuary of perfect weather and breathtaking surroundings is certainly well worth the minor inconveniences necessary to insure our safety – and that is one of the lessons I have learned ``Living Loreto``.